Unity Watch: Will Speaker Pelosi Ignore the Will of the Voters and Overturn Two House Seats?

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In an opinion piece for the Washington Examiner, GOPAC chairman David Avella noted that a Democrat congressional candidate for Iowa District 2, Rita Hart, was challenging the election results in her race. After a recount, Republican Mariannette Miller-Meeks was declared the winner by a mere six votes. Those results were certified following the recount.

Hart is asking the House of Representatives to declare her the winner. Avella points out that this could also happen in another closely-contested race in New York’s 22nd District. Incumbent Democrat Anthony Brindisi is currently trailing Republican challenger Claudia Tenney by just 27 votes.

It is possible that Speaker Pelosi could seat the Democrats rather than the Republicans. According to Roll Call:

Under the Constitution, the House itself is the final judge on the elections and qualifications of members. Hart’s petition with the House Administration Committee relied on a 1969 law laying out procedures for contesting state election results.

Hart is asking the House to allow an additional 22 ballots to be counted, which she alleges were legally cast but not counted in the initial canvass or recount. If she is successful, she would pull ahead by 18 votes. The ability of Democrats to find just enough ballots is always something to behold.

It appears Speaker Pelosi intends to give this challenge a look. Pelosi has announced that Miller-Meeks will be provisionally seated when Congress is sworn in on Sunday while the House Administration panel is still weighing Hart’s petition. This almost feels like the California Republicans who went to orientation, only to have their seats taken as harvested ballots in California kept appearing for the Democrats in 2018.

If Miller-Meeks and Tenney prevail, Speaker Pelosi will have a slim 10-seat majority at 222. That is if she maintains her position as Speaker. Several of the more radical members are not committed to supporting her. The Republicans will have one vacancy, due to the tragic death of Representative-elect Luke Letlow from Louisiana. However, three members of the Democrat caucus have been tapped for positions in the Biden administration, temporarily reducing their majority to seven, pending special elections.

With rifts in her own party that have purple-district members looking to moderate and distance themselves from the radicals in the Squad, seven is not a large number. While in the minority, Republicans stopped legislation in the last session using motions to recommit, which allow them to submit last-minute amendments. By selecting issues to use at election time where a moderate district would differ from Pelosi and the Squad, they effectively peeled Democrat members away on eight occasions. Now they would need to influence far fewer.

Adding two seats is not a lot, but it would give Pelosi a little more breathing room. Many credit the last time House Democrats did this as the beginning of the acrimony in the chamber in the same way people talk about Robert Bork and Clarence Thomas’s confirmation hearings dividing the Senate. In 1985, House Democrats seated Indiana Democrat Frank McCloskey rather than Republican Rick McIntyre, the winner certified by the Indiana secretary of state. According to Avella:

One final point about the action taken in 1985 leading down an ugly path. Gingrich, and a unified and emboldened group of House Republicans, vowed to put an end to “business as usual.” Their resolve led to taking down Speaker Jim Wright of Texas, and later establishing a Republican majority in 1994.

Democrats already have a lot to worry about in 2022 if they carry their radical plans too far. The country is significantly more divided than it was following the 1984 election. If Democrats would like to overturn elections certified at the state level while they and their allies in the media wag their fingers at anyone who questions the irregularities in the presidential contest, you can forget any kind of unity.

And what happens next will make the Tea Party waves of 2010 and 2012 look like a trickle.